Brooklyn Beckham cougar attack: A double standard?

Brooklyn Beckham, son of David and Victoria Beckham, was featured on a magazine cover, and his appearance was met with a slew of inappropriate comments from older women. If the tables were turned, would parents allow the harassment? 

John Furniss/Invision for Harper's Bazaar/AP/FILE
Brooklyn Beckham and Victoria Beckham attend Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards 2013 at Claridge's Hotel in London on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

Brooklyn Beckham, 15, oldest son of Victoria and David Beckham, is on the cover of the UK fashion magazine Man About Town, which has generated a disconcerting, inappropriate, and sexually-charged response from older women.

Apparently, when it comes to sexual predators and political correctness, some who might consider themselves "cougars" – older women who like to court younger men – think it’s OK to bend the rules when they like a Beckham boy.

In fact, perhaps we should take the shine off of female predators by changing their handle from “cougar” to “dirty old lady.”

Oh my, that’s an unattractive reality check. However, if a man in his 50s were to tweet about a 15-year-old girl in the same way that some posted about young Brooklyn, they would be called “dirty old men” in a heartbeat.

Frankly, I would like to see Mr. and Ms. Beckham take this opportunity to help publicly shutdown the practice of sexualizing minors of either sex by sending down a very public Red Card to all those women who are behaving badly over their son.

This isn’t about teenage girls tweeting their age-appropriate crushes, but the blatantly raunchy behavior of much older women making entirely inappropriate comments. One example, one of the few more tame examples:

While this admirer says she will be waiting for him, others simply say they would “have his baby” as soon as possible.

Seeing the tweets from women who appear to be old enough to be this child’s mother, I wonder how people would react if it were men sending these tweets to a girl of the same age.

I have four sons, ages 20, 18, 15, and 10, so I am keyed-in to the double-standard that seems to be present when it comes to ogling young boys.

While many of these people may be harmless, the social acceptance of the behavior has a very negative impact on the lives of the non-famous.

Two years ago, a reader in her mid-40s, began contacting me via Facebook to ask for my help in getting a teenage boy, age 16, away from a mother. The reader claimed the boy’s mom was abusive.

However, as time wore on, the woman began to send me pictures she’d taken of the boy when he wasn’t aware he was being photographed – shirtless, or through his bedroom window.

Her own Facebook page revealed she was behaving as a sexual predator while claiming to be “in love” with this boy.

I contacted the boy’s mother and local child-welfare authorities, supplying them with Facebook chats, photos, and Facebook postings by this woman.

The result was that at each and every stage of the case someone in authority smirked at the thought that this handsome teenage boy was in potential danger from an older woman they deemed unattractive, and therefore not a legitimate threat.

The woman had wormed her way into this teenager’s life by giving him a cell phone his mother could not afford to buy for him, a game console, and other expensive gifts.

Once the boy saw the woman’s Facebook posts and realized her intentions, he himself went to local authorities and testified in family court.

I was brought in as a witness, but never took the stand as the judge dismissed the case because the mother had once allowed the accused woman access to her home as a guest and had allowed her to pick the boy up from school before learning of her sexual intentions toward her son.

While the majority of sexual harassment cases consist of a man in the role of harasser, sexual harassment can come from men or women, according to statistics by Catalyst analysis, a firm which analyzes workplace trends, which looked at data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

“In recent years, the percentage of sexual harassment charges filed by men has risen from 11.6-percent to 16.3-percent of all sexual harassment charges being filed,” Catalyst reports.

Many of the cases we see in the news involving sexual harassment of teenage boys comes from older school teachers, such as the case of teacher Jennifer Christine Fichter, 29, of Davenport, Fla., who was arrested and accused of having sex with a 17-year-old boy in her pickup truck, according to AP.

Every time one of these cases makes the news, I hear people joking about being “hot for teacher.”

However, if it’s a case of a 17-year-old girl and an older male teacher, all I hear is outrage.

This double standard needs to be brought to light and parents of boys being harassed must come forward and make their cases known, because there is strength in numbers.

In the case of the boy whose family I tried to assist, I believe the woman providing the unwanted sexual attention needed help from a mental health professional. I also believe the woman’s own children and the victim needed more help than they received.

It is often said that victims of sexual harassment and crimes need to understand that these kinds of crimes are not about sex but violence, control, and other emotional issues on the part of the harasser.

Sadly, the people in authority in this case were dismissive to the mother, father, victim, and me.

They smirked and rolled their eyes until the day the boy didn’t come home because the woman had offered the boy a ride home and he accepted because he later told me, “I didn’t think anything bad would happen because everybody made it out to be a big joke.”

Nobody was laughing when it took a day and a night to locate and retrieve the boy from the hotel room she drove him to. Because there had been no help before the incident, the boy and his parents didn’t press charges. They just wanted it all to go away.

They had lost all faith in the system.

The offender vanished with her family later that week.

The boy graduated and immediately entered the military.

His mother and I lost touch as the sadness and the humiliation of what had happened to this boy weighed on us both.

Through it all, the only agency that treated the situation with the gravity it deserved was the public school system. I was exceptionally proud of the local school district for going extra miles in order to help the boy’s parents before, during, and after the incidents.

There was nothing I could do to stop the predator, who is now in another town somewhere.

The only thing I can do is tell the cautionary tale when the opportunity arises. Parents reading the story can pass it on.

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